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When Whole Foods Comes to Town

A couple of months ago it was the first non-waterfront Starbucks in Southie and what that all meant for a neighborhood that's changing a lot anyway. Now, it's the first Whole Foods in Charlestown and what that means for the seemingly eternal breakdown there between Townies and Toonies, the newcomers who started pouring over the borders in the go-go 1980s. Billy Baker of The Globe sniffed around the closure last week of the Johnnie's Foodmaster at the Bunker Hill Mall to make way for a Whole Foods, and discovered an outbreak of allegory.

The new Whole Foods, part of several going up around the Hub in place of Foodmasters, basically encapsulates the changes already under way in Charlestown. For instance, there's this: the Toonies will no longer have to venture far to get their fancy vittles; the Townies, on the other hand, may have to reach to afford Whole Foods' prices. And what of the jobs lost through the transition from basic market to higher-end market?

"There's major grumbling," said Bob Powers, a local historian who, like many on either side of the Townie/Toonie divide, is very concerned about the shift. "People feel robbed. Not only for the supermarket, but this piece of the neighborhood, which was also the main meeting spot for the community. But I don't think that many middle- and lower-income families will be able to afford Whole Foods' prices. It is clearly tailored to our newly adopted residents." "Adopted residents," some of whom have been there since the White administration, are predictably pleased with the new market. But, unlike with the Starbucks in core Southie, the Whole Foods in Charlestown isn't as big a harbinger. The Starbucks will be nearby a farm-to-table store and within a new development that includes 50 apartments. In other words, Southie's gentrification is already well under way. Stay tuned re: Charlestown's.
· Whole Foods Accents Two Halves of Charlestown [Globe]
· What the New Starbucks in Southie Would Mean [Curbed Boston]

[the old Johnnie's Foodmaster in Charlestown via The Globe]